Character

A Treasonous President

If any other citizen of the United States did what Donald Trump did on 16 July 2018 in the news conference with Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, the FBI would arrest them the moment they returned to American soil.

Trump had been briefed just before leaving for Europe where he denied the truth of the briefing and the guilt of 12 Russians indicted for interfering with the 2016 American presidential election. He emphatically took the side of Russia and blithely dismissed the credibility of United States intelligence forces—all of them. Even when Putin had already admitted Russian interference.

The investigation of Russian interference on the 2016 election conducted by intelligence experts repeatedly found evidence of Russian interference and cooperation with his campaign in order to ensure the election of Donald Trump. More correctly, perhaps, to defeat Hillary Clinton at all costs. As Secretary of State Clinton sternly admonished Russia for human rights violations and countered their excuses with factual rebuttals.

Further, Trump made these assertions on foreign soil. He has refused to meet with the US intelligence agencies with whom he should have raised his objections. His comments denying the validity of the Justice Department’s indictment of 12 Russian government officials have been widely condemned in the United States as treason, and in Europe have been regarded with astonishment and alarm.

Trump repeatedly faulted the US investigation with absurd claims of investigative failure, for example, to obtain the server and the impossibility of proving anything without it. The “server” is not missing and is not a server. It is more like a large building full of servers, computers, and other things unnamable—all present and accounted for.

More confirmation of Levitsky and Ziblatt’s assessment that democracy in the United States is in peril as the result of Trump’s actions and decisions, and by the forces that led to his election, Trump repeatedly denies the validity of anyone who questions him.

From transcripts of the press conference:

REPORTER: Thank you. Mr. President, you tweeted this morning that it’s U.S. foolishness, stupidity, and the Mueller probe that is responsible for the decline in U.S. relations with Russia. Do you hold Russia at all accountable for anything in particular? And if so, what would you consider them — that they are responsible for?
TRUMP: Yes, I do. I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago — a long time, frankly, before I got [in]to office. And I think we’re all to blame. I think that the United States now has stepped forward, along with Russia. And we’re getting together. And we have a chance to do some great things, whether it’s nuclear proliferation, in terms of stopping — because we have to do it. Ultimately, that’s probably the most important thing that we can be working on.
But I do feel that we have both made some mistakes. I think that the probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart. It’s kept us separated. There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it. People are being brought out to the fore.
So far, that I know, virtually none of it related to the campaign. And they’re going to have try really hard to find somebody that did relate to the campaign. That was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily. And frankly, we beat her — and I’m not even saying from the standpoint — we won that race. And it’s a shame that there can even be a little bit of a cloud over it.
People know that. People understand it. But the main thing, and we discussed this also, is zero collusion. And it has had a negative impact on the relationship between the two largest nuclear powers in the world. We have 90 percent of nuclear power between the two countries. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous what’s going on with the probe.

PUTIN: Once again, President Trump mentioned the issue of the so-called interference of Russia when the American elections, and I had to reiterate things I said several times, including during our personal contacts, that the Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs, including the election process.

REPORTER: Did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?

PUTIN: Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S. Russia relationship back to normal. …When President Trump visited Moscow back then I didn’t even know that he was in Moscow. I treat President Trump with [the] utmost respect. But back then, when he was a private individual, a businessman, nobody informed me that he was in Moscow.

Transcript quoted from the NPR website, CNN, CNBC, and The New York Times. The Times has also posted the full video of the press release with the transcript.

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